A Collection of Vintage Photos Featuring Josephine Baker (1906-1975)

Josephine Baker was an American born French actress, singer, dancer and comedianne, but most importantly the first African American female to star in a motion picture, to integrate an American concert hall, and to become a world-famous entertainer.

Living in the slums of St. Louis. Starting from the age of eight Josephine was put to work cleaning houses.

She first danced for the public on the streets of St. Louis for nickels & dimes. Later, she became a chorus girl on the St. Louis stage. At 15 she married a Pullman porter named Baker, but left him when she ran away at age 17, because of racial discrimination.

She made her way to Paris, France. She first captured Paris audiences in La Revue Négre captivating audiences with Danse Sauvage which was exotic and had her performing in nothing but a feathered skirt.

When La Revue Nègre closed, Josephine starred in La Folie du Jour at the Follies-Bergère Theater. Her jaw-dropping performance, including a costume of 16 bananas strung into a skirt, cemented her celebrity status. Her Banana Dance is probably one of the most famous dances during the era. She was given such nicknames as the “Bronze Venus”, the “Black Pearl”, and the “Créole Goddess”.

Her first major motion picture was Zouzou from 1934.

She also is noted for her contributions to the civil rights movement in the US for assisting the French resistence during World War II in which she received the French military honor the Croix de guerre. To show that people from different cultures could live together, Baker took on 12 multinational children and called them her Rainbow Tribe.

One qoute about her reads as follows: “She kissed babies in foundling homes, gave dolls to the young and soup to the aged, presided at the opening of the Tour de France, celebrated holidays, went to fairs, joked with workers and did charity benefits galore. She was all over Paris, always good-natured and exquisitely dressed.” (source)

Josephine Baker, 1928-1930

Josephine Baker, 1920s via

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Josephine Baker via

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Portrait of Josephine Baker, 1920’s via

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Portrait of Josephine Baker for the Follies Bergère by Walery, 1926 via

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Portrait of Josephine Baker in Paris qui remue at the Casino de Paris by Walery, 1930 via

Josephine Baker’s Banana Dance

Footage of Josephine Baker performing her infamous Banana Dance.

Beautiful Belle Epoque Photos of Marcelle Lender

Marcelle Lender (1862 – 1926) was a French singer, dancer and entertainer made famous in paintings by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Born Anne-Marie Marcelle Bastien, she began dancing at the age of sixteen and within a few years made a name for herself performing at the Théâtre des Variétés in Montmartre.

Marcelle Lender appears in several works by Lautrec but the most notable is the one of her dancing the Bolero during her February 1895 performance in the Hervé operetta Chilpéric. Lautrec’s portrait of her in full costume, her flame-red hair accentuated by two red poppies worn like plumes, boosted Lender’s popularity considerably after it appeared in a Paris magazine. The painting was eventually sold to a collector from the United States, and on her death in 1998 the painting’s then owner, American Betsey Cushing Whitney, donated it to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

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Marcelle Lender, 1900s french postcard by Reutlinger via

 

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Marcelle Lender via

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Marcelle Lender via

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Mlle Marcelle Lender. Robe de bal par Doucet via

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Marcelle Lender via

A Collection of Photos Feat. Showgirl Mistinguett

Mistinguett´s (1875 – 1956) was at one time the highest-paid female entertainer in the world. She became known as a singer and actress, starring in numerous films during the silent era.

During a tour of the United States, Mistinguett was asked by Time magazine to explain her popularity. Her answer was:

“It is a kind of magnetism. I say ‘Come closer’ and draw them to me.”

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Mistinguett

Mistinguett (5 April 1875 – 5 January 1956) was a French actress and singer, whose birth name was Jeanne Bourgeois. She was at one time the best-paid female entertainer in the world.[1]

Mistinguett

Mistinguett by Charles Gesmar 1900 - 1928 Mistinguett (5 April 1875 - 5 January 1956) was a French actress and singer, whose birth name was Jeanne Bourgeois. Charles Gesmar (pronounced Gesmar) French Poster Artist and Costume Designer Born: May 21, 1900 Died: February 27, 1928

Mistinguett by Charles Gesmar 1900 – 1928 Mistinguett (5 April 1875 – 5 January 1956). French Poster Artist and Costume Designer Born: May 21, 1900 Died: February 27, 1928

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Mistinguett and Josephine Baker, 1927

Vintage Portraits of the Infamous Dancer Lola Montez (1821 – 1861)

Lola Montez or Marie Dolores Eliza Rosanna Gilbert, Countess of Landsfeld,  was an Irish courtesan, actress and dancer. Her year of her birth is disputed, as are many aspects of her life. She famously wrote her own biography creating a completely fictional and self-indulgent fantasy of her life.

She launched herself on the London stage as ‘Lola Montez, the famous Spanish Dancer’ despite not being Spanish or even a dancer! Within years she had toured Europe with her scandalous dancing.

Her friends, lovers, and clients included Franz List, Alexandre Dumas and King Ludwig I.

In 1851, she came to the United States and in San Francisco, first performed her notorious “Spider Dance”—in which she pretended to be bitten by a spider, flailing and wiggling in a way calculated to induce maximum lust in the mostly male audience

King Ludwig I of Bavaria made her Countess of Landsfeld. She used her influence to institute liberal reforms. At the start of the Revolutions of 1848 in the German states, she was forced to flee. She proceeded to the United States via Switzerland, France and London, returning to her work as an entertainer and lecturer.

In 1858, she published The Arts of Beauty: or, Secrets of a Lady’s Toilet, full of her own thoughts and advice. One excerpt read as follows:

Without a fine head of hair no woman can be really beautiful. A combination of perfect features, united in one person, would all go for naught without that crowning excellence of beautiful hair. Take the handsomest woman that ever lived—one with the finest eyes, a perfect nose, an expanded forehead, a charming face, and a pair of lips that beat the ripest and reddest cherries of summer—and shave her head, and what a fright would she be! The dogs would bark at, and run from her in the street.

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Lola Montez

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Lola Montez, Daguerreotype by Southworth & Hawes, 1851 via

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Lola Montez, 1851 via

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Lola Montez, painted by Joseph Karl Stieler for Ludwig I of Bavaria and his Schönheitengalerie, 1847 via

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Nicolas Toussaint Charlet´s portrait of Lola Montez via

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Lola Montez via

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Lola Montez  via

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Spider Dance via

A Collection of Photos featuring “Golden Girl” Lotta Crabtree (1847-1924)

Born in New York City to British immigrants, Lotta Crabtree (1847 – 1924) would go on to become one of the wealthiest and most beloved American entertainers of the late 19th century. She was an actress, comedian and also a significant philanthropist.

Crabtree achieved the height of her success in the 1870s and 1880s. She had danced her way to fame as an adult actress on the stages of England. In the 1880s she was the highest paid actress in America, earning sums of up to $5,000 per week.

Lotta never married, although she was escorted by a number of men. She was still playing children’s parts until the end of her career, and marrying might have cut into her act as the ingénue.

Her life story was filmed as Golden Girl in 1951.

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Lotta Crabtree via

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Lotta Crabtree, 1870s via

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Lotta Crabtree via

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Actress Lotta Crabtree,  c. 1868 via

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Lotta Crabtree at the height of her career via

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Lotta Crabtree, c. 1870 via

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Lotta Crabtree via

A Collection of Photos Featuring Edwardian Beauty Lily Elsie

Lily Elsie (1886 – 1962) was a popular English actress and singer during the Edwardian era, when public entertainment flourished. The nine years during Edward´s reign were to be the height of Lily Elsie’s success on the stage.  Beginning as a child star in the 1890s, Elsie built her reputation in several successful musical comedies before her great success in The Merry Widow in 1907, which the King saw four times. Afterwards, she starred in several more successful operettas and musicals.

Admired for her beauty and charm on stage, Elsie became one of the most frequently photographed beauties of the Edwardian era.

The Chicago Examiner wrote on 1st May 1910:

She is famous above all for two things –
for having been photographed more frequently than any actress ever on a London stage, and for having had more proposals of marriage.  It is said that she has been photographed at least once every week day in the year.  Even then the insatiable demands of the photographic firms were not satisfied.  They could not obtain enough of her photographs to supply the enormous demand.

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Lily Elsie

Lily Elsie

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Lily Elsie, Postcard, postmarked Birmingham, September, 1909

Captivatingly gorgeous Victorian stage actress Lili Elsie sporting an elegant black ensemble. #Victorian #19th_century #1800s #photograph #antique #vintage #woman #actress #stage #Lili_Elsie

Lily Elsie

A Collection of Photos featuring the Incredibly Tightlaced Entertainer Polaire

Polaire (“Pole Star”), (real name Pauline Emilie-Marie Bouchard ) was Born in Algeria in 1874. She was a French music hall singer, dancer and actress. Her most successful period professionally was from the mid-1890s to the beginning of the First World War.

In France she had quickly made a name for herself and Toulouse-Lautrec portrayed her on a magazine cover in 1895. She then briefly tried her luck in New York, but without achieving major success. On her return to Paris she extended her range and went on to act in serious theatre. In 1909 she started to appear in silent films. In 1910 she returned to the musical stage and began a second tour of the United States, after which she appeared at the London Coliseum.

She struggled to find stage or screen roles as she aged. She returned to films in 1922, but in the declining years of her career had to be content with lesser parts. Her last was in 1935. She passed away in 1939, at age sixty-five, in Champigny-sur-Marne, Val-de-Marne, France. Her body was buried at the Cimetière du Centre, in the eastern Paris suburb of Champigny-sur-Marne.

Throughout her career Polaire was skilled in using her appearance to attract attention. In her early days as a café singer in the 1890s she wore very short skirts and also cropped her hair, fashions that did not become common in the rest of society until the 1920s. A brunette, she wore unusually heavy eye makeup, deliberately evocative of the Arab world. At a time when tightlacing among women was in vogue, she was famous for her tiny, corsetted waist, which was reported to have a circumference no greater than 16 inches (410 mm).  This accentuated her large bust, which was said to measure 38 inches (970 mm). She stood 5 feet 3 inches (1.60 m) tall. Her striking appearance, both on and off stage, contributed to her celebrity. For her 1910 supposed “debut” in New York she provocatively allowed herself to be billed in the advance publicity as “the ugliest woman in the world” and departing on a transatlantic liner she was apparently accompanied by a “black slave”. Returning to America in 1913, she brought a diamond-collared pet pig, Mimi, and wore a nose-ring. Talk of her figure and her lavish overdressing in fur coats and dazzling jewels preceded her appearances wherever she went.

Polaire showing of her waist, 1900

Polaire pretending to read via

Carte F.C & Cie – Cliché Boyer & Bert – Vers 1905

Polaire wearing a trademark coat

Polaire dans Le Friquet – Octobre 1904

Polaron on stage, 1904 via

Polaire with her “Black Slave” via